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Before going into the story behind Chyawanprash, let’s recall the ashvamedha yagya of Lord Rama in Ramayana. The rishi Agasthya and rishi Vashista advised Lord Rama to assign rishi Chyavana to help in performing the ashvamedha yagya. Lord Rama then told Hanumanji to invite and bring Chyavana to Ayodhya.
Before Hanumanji left, rishi Agasthya warned Hanumanji that rishi Chyavana was doing penance at the bank of the Sarayu River, and is a very fractious person who gives harsh punishment even for small mistakes. Hanumanji was poised that nothing will happen in prabhus work, so if something happens he would receive the curse as blessings by taking prabhu’s name.
When Hanumanji reached the place of rishi Chyavana son of Bhrigu, he observed that the place was like heaven full of happiness and brightness due to the intense penance of the rishi Chyavana. Hanumanji was confused that how rishi Chyavana was looking so young and had radiance; he moved forward towards the rishi but suddenly a sound came from behind warning him not to move forward, otherwise he would receive the rishi’s harsh punishment.
It was a woman who had warned him. She spoke to Hanumanji, and he told about his wish to take the rishi to Ayodhya, but she replied to wait until the rishi completes his mantra japa. Waking him in between would enrage him and end up in a disaster. She said even I am suffering the results for the same mistake. Hanumanji was curious and requested her to narrate the story so that he would come to know more about the rishi and which might hom help him to convey the message of Lord Rama.
The women started to narrate the story, many years before rishi Chyavana was in deep penance, his meditation power was such that light was traversing from his eyes and ants made an anthill around him. Astreak of light was glowing from the holes of the anthill.
During those days a pious and learned king named Sharyati who was a descendant of Manu maharaj was on tirtha yatra. He was accompanied by his beautiful daughter Sukanya and his attendants. During their journey they decided to put camp near the bank of the Narmada river. Near by the river was the ashram of the powerful Rishi Chyavana. The ashrams of the rishis always had a calm and serene ambience around them. So the king, his daughter and their army were enjoying the calm and quiet surroundings of the forest, surrounded by huge trees which provided good shade and fruits.
Sukanya was plucking flowers from the bushes in the forest along with her attendants. She played games and danced with her friends. While all this fun was going on, Sukanya noticed light glowing from an ant hill. This made her more curious and her childishness got the better of her. She took a twig and poked the ant hill. She was shocked to see that blood was oozing out of that hole. When sukanya saw a rishi coming out of anthill she was scared and ran to her father.
The rishi’s anger was at its peak, as his years of penance were disturbed. He decide to curse the rajkumari Sukanya and the whole universe as no one stopped her from doing this. The entire universe was disturbed by the rishi’s anger, wind took the posture of tornados and blew everything in its way, rivers were flowing abruptly as if a huge flood.
At that time Sukanya narrated the whole story what she had done to the rishi. The king was very upset about what Sukanya had done. The king realized that the rishi had been disturbed. He went looking for the rishi and found him very angry as his penance had been disturbed, and fell at his feet and apologized to him.
Even sukanya also pleaded him to stop the disaster. The rishi, as compensation, asked sukanya to take pledge to serve him life long and marry him. Sukanya was sorry about what she had done and agreed to his wish and decided to marry the Rishi and serve him dutifully as a wife.
The sage forgave the king and Sukanya and accepted her as his wife. Sukanya served the Rishi very faithfully and took care in satisfying all his needs. Her husband was very pleased with her pathi vrata dharma but was also unhappy about his harsh punishment towards her, as she was beautiful and young and the rishi was old and with one eye.
The Ashwini Kumaras, son of Surya Deva, came to their help, as they were specialized in Ayurveda, and told that they would provide such a medicine by which his one eye and youth would be restored. In remuneration he asked to give havishya in their name in yagya as they give to other devatas so that they would become eligible to sit along with other devatas.
The rishi accepted the request and started doing yagya in their name. When the yagya was at its peak and havishyas were given in the name of the Ashwini Kumaras, Indra was so angered by this, that he picked up his vajra to hurl it down at the rishi.
Chyavana had gained a lot of ascetic power and merit through his rigorous penance, and he paralyzed the hands of Indra. The devas pleaded with him, to restore the hands of their king. They promised that henceforth, the Aswini Kumaras would get their share in all sacrifices, for all times to come.
According to their promise the Ashwini Kumaras bathed the rishi in a pond and gave a mixture of medicinal paste to eat. When the three of them came outside of the pond, all were identical and it was a great confusion for Sukanya to identify them, but due the devotional love towards her husband she was able to identify rishi Chyavana.
Later this medicine was known to be called as Chyawanprash. And so it came about that both the Aswini Kumaras and the rishi Chyavana were able to fulfill their parts of the agreement.
Hanumanji could now understand the identity of the women, who was none other than mata Sukanya, hence he was then later able to succeed in taking rishi Chyavana to Ayodhya.